Fans were left speechless when three-time light heavyweight title challenger Alexander Gustafsson announced his retirement from the sport following a tough loss to Anthony Smith in the main event at UFC Stockholm last weekend.
The 32-year old “Mauler” was submitted by Smith in the fourth round and during his post-fight interview, removed his gloves and announced that “the show is over guys.” Both Gustafsson and Smith were coming off emphatic losses against undisputed 205-pound champion Jon Jones, but it was Smith who quieted the critics by stopping the home crowd favorite.
“Lionheart” told reporters after the fight that he hopes that Gustafsson’s decision to retire isn’t as a result of him winning on the weekend before stating that his opponent was still young and has a lot to offer the division (transcript via MMA Junkie):
“I just hope that he doesn’t look at a loss to me as something super negative, because I think people are having a hard time getting used to me being at the top,” Smith said. “And I don’t think me beating him is a reflection of him falling off the wagon or losing his edge, or not being good anymore. I’m just not going to be turned away. I hope that he can look at it like that.”
Smith believes his win over Gustafsson is easily the biggest of his career given the Swede’s credentials as a longtime contender and the fact that Smith had lost to Jones in lopsided fashion in March.
“I think it’s absolutely the biggest (win) of my career, probably the one I’m most proud of, just because of what happened in my last fight,” Smith said. “Typically, guys that come off of title losses don’t bounce back like that.”
Smith claims he will now take a much needed break to rest his body after having fought five times in the last 12 months, going 4-1 over that span with the sole loss to Jones.